Public Consultation on draft Singapore Copyright Bill (Ends 1 April 2021)

Alban Kang and Pin-Ping Oh explain the key proposals and implications on the latest public consultation on the draft Singapore Copyright Bill which ends on 1 April 2021.

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The Singapore Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) have launched a public consultation to seek feedback on the draft of a proposed Copyright Bill which is intended to replace the current Copyright Act. The consultation period will end on 1 April 2021. The plan is for the new Copyright Act to be passed in the third quarter of this year and to commence 1 month thereafter (save for certain provisions on collective management organisations).

This latest consultation follows from previous extensive public consultations held in 2016 and 2017 on various proposals for amendments to the Singapore copyright regime. These culminated in the publication of a Copyright Review Report in 2019 (“2019 Report”) setting out the changes to be introduced taking aboard the feedback.

For the present consultation, MinLaw/IPOS have stressed that its purpose is mainly to seek views on whether the draft Bill will appropriately implement the changes set out in the 2019 Report, and not to seek views on the policy positions set out in the 2019 Report. Rather, comments are sought as to whether there is any ambiguity or lack of clarity in the framing of the provisions, whether there are any situations where the application of a proposed change may cause practical difficulties, etc.

The draft Bill represents a major overhaul of the current Copyright Act in a number of respects: archaic phrases are replaced with plain English; a principle-based formulation has been adopted to provide for a more dynamic regime that can better adapt to technological changes; a thematic, more streamlined structure has been adopted for improved clarity; and, most importantly, a number of new rights and exceptions have been introduced.

The key proposals are summarised in our table here, accompanied by our comments on their practical implications. Some changes will have a greater impact on the commercialisation and use of copyrighted works by businesses than others. In the interests of brevity and readability, we have described the proposals at a high level. Please refer to the public consultation paper and draft Bill or contact us for more details.

Pin-Ping is Counsel in the Intellectual Property and Tech & Comms Groups, based in Singapore. Pin-Ping is involved in both contentious and non-contentious IP work, and has represented clients in a range of IP disputes including in civil suits before the High Court for copyright, patent and trade mark infringement, passing off, and misuse of confidential information, and trade mark invalidation actions before the Trade Marks Registry.
Alban is a partner in the Intellectual Property & Technology group in Singapore and lead of the Bird & Bird ASEAN and Japan practice. With more than 35 years in practice he has developed a specialist focus on complex patent litigation and other contentious IP related cases.

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